BUPA, the UK private health company has released the findings of its 2011 Health Pulse survey, and the results make uneasy reading for middle aged people in the UK.
The survey, which covers countries in every continent except Africa questions more than 13,000 people, has shown that UK residents aged between the ages of 45-54 are much more likely to be unhealthy in a number of key areas than their global counterparts.
The survey paints a potentially dark picture for the potential costs of medical insurance in the future, as higher risks of obesity and depression could translate into middle aged people having to pay more in insurance premiums.
Of the 2,000 British participants in the survey, around 22% of the over 45s considered themselves to be unhealthy. This is significantly higher than the country with the next highest percentage: the USA, where around 17% of the same age group consider themselves to be unhappy.
Middle aged British citizens are also more likely to be obese than their peers in the rest of the world, but interestingly are far less likely to believe they are. While around 60% of those Britons that were surveyed were found to have a Body Mass Index score of over 25, but only 33% actually believed themselves to be overweight.
Over a quarter of those surveyed said that they are likely to smoke more than 10 cigarettes (24%) a day and consider themselves to be depressed (27%). The biggest contributor to this sense of depression was fears and concerns over the state of an individuals finances or their career.
Only 44% of those interviewed in the UK felt positive about their health prospects in the upcoming 6 -12 months, and 14% said that they believed the focus on celebrity culture to be having a negative effect upon their health.
One of the main conclusions of the survey states that the results seem to indicate that those middle aged individuals in English speaking countries were not taught about healthy lifestyles as much and are more likely to feel that their parents set a bad example for them.
The medical director at BUPA has stated that the results of the survey should act as a wake up call, but stressed that there was no real reason why these trends cannot be reversed.
The survey is interesting to note for medical insurance companies, who may see this prevalence of health problems as meaning that middle aged people represent a higher risk to them than they had previously thought. In the long term this could result in higher premiums, but most companies are likely to wait until any long term trends can be established.